To kids, the phrase “Summer Slide” conjures visions of water parks and neighborhood amusements.
To educators, researchers and librarians, the phrase also has a serious meaning: the loss of retention of information learned in the previous school year, as experienced by many students during weeks of summer vacation.
To combat “summer slide,” teachers and parents around the country endorse free summer reading programs like that hosted by Southwest Ohio’s MidPointe Library system. For decades, MidPointe locations have been the go-to places for summer reading materials, both educational and entertaining, as well as specially-themed programming for all ages.
This year’s “Summer Reading Program” for children through adults will start June 1 and run through July 31 at each MidPointe location : Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and in Liberty Township on the second floor of Liberty Center.
Themed “A Universe of Stories,” the program will be particularly appealing to residents of the Buckeye State. From the first flights of Dayton’s Wright Brothers to Ohio native Neal Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon 50 years ago this July, Ohio has played a major role in America’s Space program.
Although MidPointe’s Summer Reading Program offers two months of reading for prizes and enjoying special guests and fun activities, it retains a serious goal that’s shared by educators: to help all students avoid the dreaded “Summer Slide,” otherwise known as summer learning loss.
Research has demonstrated that some students are more susceptible to the “Slide” than others. For example, the National Summer Learning Association has reported the following:
● The “Summer Slide” often affects disadvantaged children, who “tread water at best or even fall behind, while higher-income children build their skills steadily over the summer months.
● Most students lose two months of math skills every summer, and low-income children typically lose another two to three months in reading.
● Summer learning loss during elementary school accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle-income peers by ninth grade.
● 9 in 10 teachers spend at least three weeks re-teaching lessons at the start of the school year.
● Elementary school students with high levels of attendance (at least five weeks) in voluntary summer learning programs experience benefits in math and reading.
Other reputable groups have also studied the impact of summer learning loss upon students.
In 2010 the Dominican University Graduate School of Library & Information Science of Illinois released the “Dominican Study -- Public Library Summer Reading Programs Close the Reading Gap.” The report confirmed many findings from previous studies:
“...Most notably that free voluntary reading makes a difference in improving reading scores and prevents summer slide. Students from our study who participated in a public library summer reading program reported that they like to read books and like to go to the library. Public librarians also reported that these students were enthusiastic about reading…”
“...The one institution that offers unfettered access to a wide variety of reading materials -- not just during the summer but all year round -- is the public library,” it stated.
Public libraries like MidPointe are aware of and endeavor to meet the needs of a diverse population.
As a steward of taxpayer dollars, MidPointe, like all public libraries, is committed to serving all citizens within its circulation area. With free, popular programs like “Summer Reading,” books, magazines, educational games and science toolkits, MidPointe remains a reliable source for the educational and entertainment needs ofall students, all year long.